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4 Actionable Tips to Communicate Your Designs to Manufacturers

by Boris Hodakel  • May 22, 2019 • 4 min read

Conveying your designs to manufacturers goes way beyond sending out a few flat sketches.

It encompasses every back and forth starting with the initial quote all the way to production.

You can streamline this by adopting a systematic way of communicating - with a single source of truth.

Here are 4 tips to help you and your manufacturer get on the same page at every stage of the product development process.

1 - Start with the universal language of factories

Your techpack is the blueprint you’ll use to communicate your design to your manufacturer.

It should contain your:

  • Technical sketches
  • Bill of Materials
  • Gradings
  • Colorways
  • Measurements
  • Construction details

You should include one when publishing an enquiry on Sewport.

A few vague sketches aren’t enough here.

Manufacturers won’t be able to assess your requirements and provide accurate sampling and production estimates.

You need to convey all your technical requirements in one place for this.

The more detailed, the better.

You’ll attract more offers from more suitable manufacturers.

However, don’t treat your techpacks as a static set of instructions.

They are a work in progress and subject to change.

You’ll refer back to them throughout your sampling and production.

In other words, techpacks should serve as a master document to systematically track your product development.

This implies that every comment, revision, update, version and due date should be centralized around and communicated through your techpack.

You can do that using Techpacker.

It’s a single platform that lets you create professional techpacks in minutes, update teams in real time and keep manufacturers up to date.

But don’t expect to just dump your techpack on your manufacturer and expect them to get everything perfect on the first try.

Communicating your designs isn’t a one-shot thing, it’s an iterative process.

There will be multiple rounds of revision.

Mistakes will spring up.

And you’ll have to pinpoint these mistakes and request changes.

Read on to find how.

2 - Revise your FIT table for every sample round

Say you’ve received your first sample and held your first fit session.

You notice a few discrepancies in the measurements.

So how do you make sure your manufacturer understands and fixes them?

You go back to your techpack and right below your measurement table and a new Sample fit round table with the following columns:

A Point of measurements: List out all your point of measurements here
B Tolerance: Enter the upper and lower limit of spec variances you can allow for each point of measurement.
C Sample Size: Enter the original sample size measurements you provided in your initial techpack
D FIT: Enter your sample measurements
E DIF: Enter the difference between what you asked for and what you’ve received

fit 1

If there’s a problem with curved parts of your garment such as the armhole or hips, it can be helpful to add extra point of measurements for the same.

Techpacker has a FIT sheet template that you can generate in one click.

It uses your measurements specs and adds all the required columns.

As you fill in your sample specs in the FIT column, the template will compare them with your provided tolerance range and instantly highlight differences for you like this:

sample fit round 1

This comes in real handy when you have to reassess your specs during multiple sample reviews.

BONUS: You can also add costing sheets, quantity breakdowns, delivery tracking and much more on Techpacker. Discover the new Custom Sections feature.

3 - Include comments directly in your tech pack

For construction problems like an uneven hem or a bad curve of the neckline, you’ll need to include comments with accompanying photos showing the issue.

Make sure to add a comment specifying if a design detail is approved as well.

Keep all that extra text and pictures in a separate comment sheet attached to your techpack.

You’ll be able to refer back to it when the next samples come in.

The final step is to highlight these comments in your email and send it to your factory.

Techpacker automates this part for you.

The platform lets you communicate design changes with pinpoint accuracy, without the use of an inbox.

You can add comments, updates and files right next to specific design details.

add comment updates and files

Techpacker will automatically format all your comments and include them on a separate page in your techpack PDF.

This saves you from keeping track of every comment and changes, labeling them and putting everything on a separate page.

4 - Use direct and specific language

Manufacturers are busy and their attention span is scarce.

As a rule of thumb, you want to be as direct and specific as possible when talking with them.

This applies especially when working with overseas factories whose first language isn’t English.

In short, keep your messages brief and to the point.

Use bullet points to outline problems so your manufacturer can easily see and fix them one by one.

Highlight important changes.

If they miss anything, write back in bold and capitals to make sure they don’t miss it again.

And most importantly, spell out exactly what you want.

Don’t take anything for granted. If you’re not explicit with what you want and when you want it, manufacturers will consider it unimportant and ignore it.

Your sample doesn’t fit right?

Don’t just ask them to fix it. Tell your factory that zip is 10cm too short, put a note to amend in the next sample and add the new zip length in your techpack.

Don’t expect the factory to solve your problems. They can make suggestions, but don’t forget that they are making money from you and may guide you in a direction that is more profitable for them, rather than best for you.

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About the author:

Boris Hodakel is the founder and CEO of Sewport - an online marketplace connecting brands and manufacturers, former founder of various clothing manufacturing services. He is passionate about e-commerce, marketing and production digitisation. Connect with Boris on LinkedIn.